Developing a Participatory Consultation Process
for Quality Reviews: The initial stage of the European University
Associations Quality Review of the Dublin Institute of Technology
The methodology utilized sought to address the following statements
outlined in the EUA Guidelines document;
- `The self-evaluation process is a collective institutional
reflection and an opportunity for quality enhancement of any aspect
that is part of the Self-evaluation process' (EUA
- The focus should be on `institutional critical reflection'
and `actual practice' rather then citing existing policy documents.
The process should be representative, collaborative, open, transparent
and truthful (EUA 2004: 11).
The size, complexity of structure and dispersed location of the
DIT community (student population 21,094, staff population 1,831
and variety of stakeholders, 6 faculties and support services, housed
in 35 locations throughout Dublin’s city centre. See Figure
1 and Figure 2
for graphical profile of target populations) proved problematic
in deciding on a research mode that could adequately fulfil the
requirements as set out by the EUA.
In order to give a broad section of the DIT community an opportunity
to participate in the consultation process and provide baseline
empirical data, a quantitative methodology was employed, consisting
of two structured online survey instruments. A qualitative methodology
was used to explore and map out the DIT community attitudes and
opinions, relating to specific themes and issues in greater detail.
These two different methodologies were used in a ‘complimentary’
fashion, in that the findings could be compared and contrasted.
It was not intended to utilize the separate research findings in
a ‘corroborative’ or ‘facilitative’ fashion
(Hammersley cited in Seale et al.
2004: 314). Underpinning this methodology was the rational to
systematically signpost quality practices and map out potential
weaknesses that need enhancement moving forward. In essence it is
a retrospective reflective study of the DIT community. The premise
is that the baseline data will facilitate the institution’s
decision-making mechanisms to assess, plan and implement improvements.
The primary focus of both the qualitative and quantitative modes
was to explore issues relating to the strengths and weaknesses of
the following six themes as stated in the EUA Guidelines document.
Six themes or variable used to construct online survey and theme
||Facilities & Resources
|Learning and Teaching
A team-based approach was adopted by the Steering Committee (SC)
to develop appropriate methods and procedures. Key tasks were communication,
research design, quantitative research and qualitative research.
Team designation was on a voluntary basis and members of the Academic
Affairs support staff gave administrative support. This type of
team development approach further reinforced the collaborative and
collegial nature of the research enquiry. See Figure
3 which depicts the structure, tasks and team composition.
The author proposes that the team dynamic (structure and communication)
utilized is comparable with both Robbins and Coulter (2002:
295) `All channel communication model' and some of Belbin’s
(1996) characteristics of effect
teams. Team construction was based on a multi-level model, emphasis
was placed on open discourse, and decisions were then made in a
rational collaborative fashion.